The influence of obesity and diet quality on fetal growth and perinatal outcome

Nutr Hosp. 2022 Sep 21. doi: 10.20960/nh.04076. Online ahead of print.


Background: maternal obesity is associated with an increase of both maternal and fetal complications as macrosomia.

Aim: to assess the quality of diet in a cohort of pregnant women in terms of Mediterranean diet (MD) adherence and to examine the association between diet quality, obesity, weight gain and fetal growth and perinatal complications.

Methods: Mediterranean Diet Adherence Screener (MEDAS) was applied to assess diet quality in 542 pregnant women. Fetal biometric measurements at third-trimester ultrasound were collected and perinatal outcomes were recorded.

Results: only 35 % of pregnant women presented a good quality of diet, in terms of adherence to MD. Diet quality significantly increased with lower values of body mass index (BMI) and higher maternal age. Higher BMI was significantly associated with a higher abdominal circumference and estimated fetal weight at the third trimester, a higher risk of hypertension disorder, induction of labor and a higher birthweight. A statistically significant association between diet quality and ultranosographic measures or perinatal outcome was not found. However, a higher weight gain across gestation was significantly associated with a higher risk of gestational diabetes, a higher gestational age at delivery and a higher birthweight.

Conclusion: most of our pregnant women did not showed a great diet quality, but there was no evidence that diet quality affected pregnancy complications. On the contrary, pre-pregnancy BMI was related to fetal and neonatal growth and obstetric outcomes, similarly to weight gain across gestation.